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  • What should one wear to the hospital?

    what-should-i-wear-today

    As many of my readers know, my mom has been in the hospital and at one point it didn’t look like she was going to make it. While she’s on the up now, she’s got a long road ahead – even now. If that wasn’t stressful enough, I’ve found myself putting a lot more stock in an everyday question. Every time I’ve gone to visit her, I’ve asked myself “what do I wear?” Let me step back….I have a lot of t-shirts, and unless I’m working – I tend to default to said t-shirts. I love my polos I wear to work, but they all seem so plain when I could wear a band t shirt or maybe something a little geeky. I think it goes back to my childhood – I went to a private grade school which didn’t allow for much. Boys were allowed to wear plain t-shirts, but shirts with any kind of printing were prohibited. An extreme example….I had this green and white shirt with an “Ocean Pacific” logo on the back. I decided to wear it that day and cover it up with a jacket. I started to get hot at recess, but the playground attendant wouldn’t let me take my jacket off because it was against the dress code. Never mind, the dress code was to prevent distraction during lessons and this was recess. Rules were rules, even if you’re drenching in sweat! Sidenote, the girls had it worse as dress code was pretty much a literal phrase….they had to wear dresses (or skirts). But getting back to my love for t-shirts, let’s just say when I switched schools in eighth grade, I wore printed t-shirts almost everyday. Just because I could.

    So…back to the hospital. The question that arose about what to wear vs what t-shirt I could or could not wear was the very real fact that my t-shirt could be the last thing my mom saw if she did pass away. Of course, it wasn’t just her – ICU in general is usually full of people who are on the brink of this life and the next. Of course it wasn’t just that – it was also the way I looked to family. My grandma hadn’t seen me with my beard until the day my mom was rushed to the hospital. I was wearing a dark green polo, and the combination really didn’t jive with her. She said I looked kind of scary! A few days later, she warmed up to the beard and told me it was the shirt. While this may or may not have been her overreaction – I still have not worn that green shirt since that day. And of course, that shirt is on the “do not wear to the hospital” list.

    Imagine this being the last thing you saw….

    But again, that’s a polo. What about the t-shirts? Of course, there’s some very obvious shirts one should never wear to a hospital (or, maybe anywhere, but oh well). A classic example is a Def Leppard “Hysteria” T shirt. Anyone that would wear this design to an ICU, ER (or even anywhere small children frequent) needs to get professional help; they’re obviously a full blown psychopath – no further testing needed! I can picture someone as they’re breathing their last… and seeing the two demonic faces in obvious eternal torment, and thinking – Oh crap, I’m entering hell, aren’t I? Another example: my “Spinal tap, None more black,” shirt. Probably less sinister than the Hysteria shirt, but still…a spinal tap t-shirt in a hospital? Yeah….probably not a good idea.

    The hordes of Hell have been replaced with Muppets!
    The hordes of Hell have been replaced with Muppets!

    Of course most of my t shirts were probably fine, but I decided if it was at all questionable, I probably shouldn’t wear it. I didn’t wear my Flogging Molly shirt because there was a skeleton on it – let’s not remind the sick what’s inside of them. I didn’t wear my Dead Kennedy’s t-shirt due to the fact that the word “dead” was in it. I didn’t wear my other Def Leppard shirt, the “Pyromania” shirt, because, well, I actually don’t remember. I guess I just felt it was a little too graphic. An explosion as seen through the scope of a rifle…..again….better be safe then sorry. I didn’t wear my Princess Bride shirt because it says “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, PREPARE TO DIE!” And I didn’t wear my Electric Mayhem shirt for the same reason I didn’t wear my Hysteria t-shirt – one look at Animal in chains, and they might have thought…I’m in hell and the demons are muppets!!! I didn’t even wear my deadpool shirts because….DEADpool. If the shirt had any macabre implications, real or imagined, said shirt was on the do not wear list.

    Going past the comfort of anyone in ICU, I had a selfish reason for not wearing certain shirts – I didn’t want the last thoughts of my mom to be – what a dork. I’m currently wearing a shirt that says “There are four lights!” with four dots over the text. If you’re clueless, it’s a Star Trek: TNG reference to when that Cardasians held Picard prisoner – snort. While it certainly isn’t my geekiest shirt ever, it does require a bit of geekiness to get the reference.

    RIP dude...RIP
    RIP dude…RIP

    And while another person might not have thought anything of it, my mind said “don’t wear this shirt! Your mom will think you’re a dork!” There’s a myriad of more obvious pop culture reference shirts. There were transformers t-shirts, several Star trek and Star wars shirts. There was Firefly in a bottle, and of course, there’s the Hodor quote shirt. It says “Hodor” – Hodor. Granted, my mom wouldn’t even get the reference…..but I was still worried. Almost all my geek shirts had to be put on the “do not wear” list.

    Finally, there was one more category I had to consider. If I wore a shirt that I really love, and my mom died while I was wearing that shirt, would I be able to wear that shirt ever again? Honestly, most of the shirts I love were already covered in the do not wear category – but I have a couple that had to be included on the do not wear list for this reason. I’ve got a “Pink Floyd – wish you were here” shirt that I love dearly. I’ve got a Cure shirt my girlfriend got me. I’ve got a couple U2 shirts. I felt shirts in this category had to be put on the DNW list as they’re really not shirts I want attached to tragedy.

    After all this I felt like I had one choice when visiting my mom (especially in the ICU). I wore plain, every workday polos. They’re comfortable, they’re ok looking, they’re non-offensive, and they’re forgettable. The biggest effect they might have on anyone around (aside from allegedly making me look scary with my beard) is that a lot of them have pretty, soothing colors. Purples, royal blues, lavender, and the like. I do admit…I avoided wearing any of my black polos – but that might be my own superstition. Then again….maybe all of this is superstition. They had us wear gowns when visiting her in the ICU, just as a precaution against microbes. So….seeing what we were wearing wasn’t all that possible. Maybe I just needed to control this….this one little thing in a time where so much was out of control.

    I did, the other day, break down and wear a t-shirt when I saw her. It was a “star wars coffee” parody of Starbucks. I kind of regretted it, not because the design. Not because I thought it might be scary or demonic or insensitive. I didn’t even care that it was a little dorky – I did, however, care that it was a little short. This is why I always get a tall size in shirts if I have the choice!

    I thought I ordered a TALL Americano with cream!
    I thought I ordered a TALL Americano with cream!
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  • The best April Fool’s gag ever played on me

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    I love April Fool’s day.  And it’s only gotten better with the rise of the internet. You have Think Geek’s phony products, reddit’s annual prank, Google, Netflix….they all seem to be in on the April Fool’s merriment. There’s also the individual pranks. This year in Dead Memories Portland, I convinced a good portion of the group that they would discontinue selling Best Food’s Mayonaise in favor of selling Hellman’s nationwide. Some were exhuberant, some not so. I’m pretty sure there’s some that still don’t know it’s a joke. There’s also the string of silly pranks – tape on the bottom of a coworker’s optical mouse, or maybe a fake roach on their desk. And of course, there’s the “I’m pregnant / engaged / coming out of the closet / quitting the internet and ecetera. Some feel those are over the top, and in poor taste, but as someone who has pulled three of the four, I love them. Of course – when I pulled “I’m pregnant,” no one believed me, but that’s an entirely diffferent story.

    image

    But this is not a story about the best pranks I’ve pulled – this is the story about the best prank pulled on me. It was April 1, 1998, and it was done by my biology instructor in college. To understand the dynamics of this particular prank, I need to tell the reader about the PCC Biology department. Most people taking biology at PCC were not science majors, and therefore got to take the dumbed down biology lab. This lab was, for the most part, at the student’s own pace. We would walk into the biology lab, to the back counter, and ask for the lesson we needed. We would then recieve a box with an audio cassette, and everything we needed to complete the lesson. When we were finished with the lesson, we would finish up the worksheet, show it to the instructor at the front of the lab, and they would grade the worksheet on the spot. We could then go take the quiz for the unit at our leasure. Mind you, this sounds easy enough – but oh, oh it was not. The tests were grueling, and often times would rely you knowing the biology textbook backwards and forwards. They would have questions that were not covered in the material, which you would then have to answer throguh the process of elimination: I know the answer could not be A, B, or D, so I guess the answer is C. Probably a great way to teach those who study science, for a liberal arts major like myself – well, let’s just say I did a lot of extra credit in that class to maintain my GPA.

    But I digress – you want to know about the prank! It was the first week of Spring quarter, and I was taking my first unit of 103.  I remember it had to do with human reproduction, though to be honest, I don’t remember much more about the unit. The instructor was a very sciency looking older, plump woman wiht short hair. She looked very serious and no nosence, but did at times let her human side show up. Example, in this same unit I had to show her a human sperm (on a pre-prepared slide mind you). She seemed to be very excited to see it up close: “Oh, there’s the little guy!” She said with a raspy voice as she looked at a very uncomfortable me.

    I had finished my worksheet, and I needed her to sign off on it. I was satisfied with it, and even figured it was one of the easier units. I handed her my paper, she looked at it, gasped, and then  looked strait at me and said in her most serious tone: “Do you really expect me to accept this?” She obviously knew my deer in a headlights look, as I had just – maybe a day before – showed her a sperm. Silence. Other students gathered around the table, looking at me, me looking at her…..finally I asked: “What’s wrong with this?” She, with the same tone she had after seeing the sperm, said: “Well, for one thing, it’s April First.” She then smirked, and stamped my paper. I realiized I had just been pranked by my biology professor. She later said that she had been waiting all day for a 103 student to finish a lesson, just so she could pull this prank. It obviously gave her joy, made me laugh,  and even made those aorund me laugh.

    I guess that’s what made this specific joke so much fun. Yes, it was a simple joke, and my readers probably expected a more complex joke – but sometimes the simple jokes are in fact the best. It also came from a source I didn’t expect – a collegiate instructor. Someone who had power over me. Someone who could basically ruin my GPAand make me take the class over again if I looked at them the wrong way. And while it made a fool out of me, it really did make everyone involve laugh. This is the most important thing one can hope for in any joke. The pranker, the victim, and the bystanders all enjoyed the joke. This is truly a successful joke. Happy April Fool’s everyone. By the way, there’s a big huge bug on your shoulder. Made you look!

    I just came to say hello.....
    I just came to say hello…..

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